Hey, there! Log in / Register

Why reporters shouldn't have ratted out Rachael Rollins about leaking confidential documents, even if they wanted to

Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor at Northeastern, lists several reasons: Off-the-record conversations can be a key to significant journalism (think Deep Throat) and Woodstein, the Globe and Herald reporters probably didn't realize the depths to which Rollins was sinking and there's actually a case involving a politician who was publicly turned out after leaking, sued, and won.



Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!


Couldn't they have been the ones who provided the investigators with the texts?

Do you teach your students " When the truth becomes legend , print the legend." What about the lives and reputations she tried to destroy .

What about confirming that a source's information is accurate before publishing it? Do journalists have some responsibility to cover elections in a fair and objective manner?

The reporters knew that a politically appointed federal law enforcement figure was playing dirty politics - that's not a story? What's the fear - that if we rat out this rat, the other rats won't try to use us in their own criminal enterprises? Rollins tried to plant false stories about a political opponent. And no, this is not like the Pentagon Papers, and Woodward and Bernstein did not pass on lies about Watergate - someone just flunked the Analogies test.
This isn't 'how the sausage is made' in journalism - it's sitting on a story of criminality in high places.


At the end of the day, she's repeatedly behaves like an arrogant, entitled jerk.


This conclusion seems a bit overly broad. There's a difference between a whistle-blower and a top official in a position requiring Senate confirmation who is using the press as a tool in her corruption.


And side with this excellent piece by Commonwealth.


Had Rollins approached you with dirt on Hayden (or anyone), would you have published if she wouldn't allow you to attribute it to her?


It seems to be part of the job. One source isn't enough. No matter how famous or important the primary source, you need to find verification, or you get played.


Sheds some light. I wouldn't be too quick to blame reporters on this one.
it appears that she brought this on herself.


Adam previews Dan Kennedy's post about why members of the press should not reveal their sources and you ask Adam to hypothetically weigh in on using information from a named source? That's dangerously close to asking him if Rollins provided him any information.


Dangerously close?

Explain the danger in a regular person asking such a question? Wow

I have never talked with or otherwise directly communicated with Rachael Rollins. Gone to press conferences at which she spoke? Asked questions of the US Attorney's officer's PR staff about particular criminal cases? Yes, but that's hardly the same.


I have turned down some offers like that because, to be honest, one of the drawbacks of being a one-person outlet is that I don't have the time to research such stories properly.

Off-the-record conversations can be part of good journalism. They can also be used to manipulate the press into serving a nefarious agenda, and very frequently are so used.

The reporters didn't realize how bad Rollins was sinking, so they should have kept quiet? Maybe their instincts were better than Kennedy gives them credit for. (Is this the same Dan Kennedy who used to write for the Glob?)

There may be a case where a pol leaked, sued, and won, but this isn't like that. Rollins didn't leak, she fabricated.


If there was an investigation she would have been recused. The misleading part is that normally the recusal comes after the investigation starts. Technically the recusal was not a lie, but it was presented in a way that was meant to deceive. I really did expect that this would be investigated. But I realize now it would have started at a much lower level at least at first.


He wrote for the Boston Phoenix.


The Herald's Peter Lucas was bemoaning the demise of Andrea Estes at the Globe. He noted that she was a great reporter with an excellent track record, only to be done in by one factually problematic story. This led him to a classic misstep of his.

Back in 1983, he wrote a story that ended up on the front page (and then, as now, there is only one front page story in the Herald) claiming that Mayor White was going to announce his reelection bid that day. At 7:30pm, the mayor released a video saying he wasn't going to run again. Lucas' source- Mayor White. Apparently, White didn't like Lucas, so he fed him a fake story to make him look bad.

Circling back to this politician, it might be worth the reporter's ethics to not run articles about Rollins' leaking at the time, but it would cost Rollins in the end.


Can we for 5 minutes remove politics and just simply ask yourselves if you've seen noticeable improvements in any one given the honor and duty to fight with passion to make us feel safer?

Clearly the fact of Rollins leaking unethically to tip an election -- and the likely pattern of corruption it represented -- was a bigger story than the "investigation" of Hayden story she was trying to plant. Yet Kennedy et al say the promise of anonymity has to be sacrosanct, and you have to let yourself get played for the sake of the next story or journalistic integrity or whatever. Surely this principle has limits? How about at least put resources into what you now know is an unethical US Attorney?


If you’re going to combine the names of two of the most famous reporters of all time into a Voltron-like super-reporter, the name “Woodstein” is much more preferable then the alternative, ”Burnward”..